School-wide systems of support
School-wide systems of support: Prevention and early intervention
Module 1 – About this course
The professional learning for Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) includes a series of training components undertaken over time. Each component is designed to build the capacity to implement positive learning and wellbeing supports relevant to students, school and classroom context across the Care Continuum. Training components include:
- Tier 1 Universal prevention: school-wide systems
- Tier 1 Classroom systesm of support
- Tier 2 Targeted interventions and supports
- Tier 3 Intensive individualised supports
- PBL in the preschool.
- focuses on preventing problem behaviour across the whole school
- is the foundation for all other positive behaviour for learning components
- provides the research and framework underpinning the whole school approach.
- design systems that fit their context, focusing on supporting staff to be consistent
- collect and use data to inform decision-making
- put evidence-based teaching and learning practices in place that encourage appropriate behaviour.
By the end of this course, participants will be able to:
- understand PBL school-wide systems and practices
- develop, implement, monitor and evaluate the 7 essential features of school-wide systems and practices
- use data to inform decision making
- explain the benefits of positive, proactive and instructional approach to behaviour management.
Module 2 Thinking functionally
Module 2 – Thinking functionally
Thinking functionally about behaviour is key to supporting students who are building their prosocial skills.
The science of behaviour
Understanding the reasons behind behaviour is key to supporting students build their prosocial skills.
- any observable and measurable act that an individual does – the actions or reactions of a student (or anyone) to the environment or prior events
- a form of communication (for example, "this work is too hard", "I need help", "please talk to me")
- learnt, predicable, serves a purpose and is changeable
- governed by the consequences that follow the behaviour.
If a behaviour achieves the desired outcome individuals will continue to perform that behaviour. If it does not, we stop.
Behaviours occur in response to something, whereas identified stimuli are called antecedents.
Educators cannot make a person change. However, teachers can shape the environment to increase the likelihood that a student will change from a pattern of unexpected inappropriate behaviour to expected behaviour.
Challenging behaviour may develop and persist because of the consequences it produces, such as gaining access to attention or activities or ending undesired situation.
Identifying the functions that maintain inappropriate behaviour provides a key to the elusive question of 'why' inappropriate behaviour occurs. It provides the information needed to reduce inappropriate behaviour and teach socially acceptable, functional alternative skills that can be used to improve life outcomes.
Thinking about the functions of behaviour
Behaviour communicates a need and has a purpose. A person engages in a behaviour to obtain something or avoid something – adult or peer attention, sensory stimulus, a tangible object, experience or activity.
Professional judgement about behaviour patterns can give an insight into the function of behaviour:
- Think about and discern whether students are trying to to get or avoid something.
- Ask the questions: what is the student trying to communicate? What is the behaviour communicating?
- Take the emotion away from the event or behaviour to allow adults to logically problem-solve.
- Interventions are more effective when the function, or purpose, of the behaviour is identified.
Applied behaviour analysis
To understand applied behaviour analysis we need to know our ABCs, an initialism for the contingency Antecedent–Behaviour–Consequence, meaning something happens preceding the behaviour (the Antecedent), which in effect causes the Behaviour, which then results in Consequences. Moreover:
- Antecedents are events that happen immediately before and trigger the behaviour.
- Behaviour is an observable and measurable act.
- Consequences are the resulting event or outcome that occurs immediately following the behaviour.
Behaviour is any observable and measurable act that the student does – the actions or reactions of the student to the environment or antecedents. Simply stated, this is the response from the student to the antecedent conditions. It is a visible action.
In a classroom or non-classroom setting it might include performing or doing what is instructed, noncompliant behaviour or no response at all.
Non-classroom examples include:
- The teacher signals the start of assembly by raising his hand (antecedent) and students sit for assembly to begin (behaviour).
- The teacher signals by raising their hand and verbally reminds students to raise their hand during an upcoming discussion. After the teacher’s reminder to raise their hands to get permission to speak (antecedent), Jerry raises his hand and waits to be called on (behaviour).
Antecedents are events that occur before the behaviour and trigger the behaviour. Antecedents include cues, prompts, signals, questions or commands from the teacher, as well as reactions from peers that influence student behaviour. They are what happens right before the behaviour occurs.
This includes the physical setting, the time of the day, the materials, person or people present, as well as how and what directions are given.
Antecedents produce the behaviour that follows.
A well-managed classroom setting that includes provision of appropriate materials, establishment clear expectations and specific directions from teachers increase the likelihood of appropriate student behaviour.
An example of an antecedent in a non-classroom setting: the teacher raises their hand at the front of the whole school assembly, signalling the need for students to settle and sit for assembly.
Consequences are the resulting event or outcomes that occur immediately following the behaviour. In the classroom this includes the reaction of the teacher and peers, which might include attention, specific positive feedback or correction.
Consequences may increase (reinforce), maintain or decrease (punish) the likelihood of future behaviour.
In the example, when the teacher prompted the school to prepare for the start of assembly by raising their hand (antecedent), students settle and show that they are ready (behaviour). The teacher provides specific positive feedback to the students (consequence). The effect is that students know what it is they are to do. The specific positive feedback (consequence) increases the likelihood of future settled behaviour. In this example, the teacher intervened with antecedents and consequences to obtain the desired behaviour.
Additionally, there are sometimes setting events which are conditions or events that influence behaviour by temporarily changing the value or effectiveness of reinforcers.
Tools to help understanding
This tool is designed to assist with understanding and effectively responding to and preventing frequent minor behaviours.
A few thoughts
Initially, educators provide external regulation for students by establishing common definitions of desired behaviours, providing antecedent supports and delivering reinforcing or discouraging consequences. Educators use these externally regulated strategies to teach all students the expected behaviour and facilitate consistent use of appropriate behaviour. Over time, educators assist students in developing self or internal regulation.
There is a continuum of human motivation including: amotivation, extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation.
- Amotivation denotes a complete lack of motivation for or value of the activity or knowledge in consideration, or perceived lack of competence with the activity.
- Extrinsic motivation means an individual engages in an activity to attain a separable outcome. For example, engaging to receive an external item or activity of preference, to fit into a group, to master a skill or gain knowledge needed for later.
- Intrinsic motivation refers to participating in an activity simply for the enjoyment of the activity itself.
- Competence: succeeding in what is to be done, belief in one’s ability to succeed or self-efficacy.
- Relatedness: connecting with others or belonging.
- Autonomy: being in control of ones’ life or self-determination.
- chronological and developmental age of students
- students’ prior knowledge of and experience with desired behaviours
- context or setting events
- student understanding that the school-wide behavioural rules and procedural skills are universal and will increase their overall success in the classroom, school-wide and eventually in life outside of school.
The majority of human behaviour relies on a certain degree of external motivation, and intrinsic motivation relies on the development of competence, relatedness and autonomy.
Schools can use the science of behaviour to plan for and establish systems that create environments which increase the likelihood that teachers and students will demonstrate desired behaviours.
Seven essential features
Module 3 – Seven essential features
There are 7 essential features (or components) included in this and the classroom systems training:
- defining expected behaviour
- teaching expected behaviour
- encouraging expected behaviour
- responding to problem behaviour
- effective classroom practice
- ongoing monitoring.
Once consistent school-wide systems and practices are embedded with explicit teaching and ongoing monitoring and evaluation, it is important to focus on classroom systems. Classrooms are unique spaces for the teacher and current students. Therefore, it is important that while using the fundamental school-wide systems and practices, teachers develop contextually relevant systems, practices, rules and routines for their students using data to inform decision making and adjusting as needed.
Essential feature: Leadership
Module 4 – Leadership
Effective leadership is key to the success of Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL). Leadership includes the principal and a team that is tasked with developing, implementing interventions and supports, and continually using data to inform decision making.
- ensure best practice
- establish PBL Leadership Team and support team process
- take a leadership role in problem solving
- guide decision making process
- monitor progress
- ensure sustainability.
The leadership team involves a cross section of the whole school community that aims to improve school systems, shape school climate, provide opportunities to collaborate with staff and overcome real and perceived challenges.
PBL team responsibilities are to:
- assess current behaviour management practices
- examine patterns of behaviour using data to inform decision making
- obtain and maintain staff commitment and community participation
- develop school-wide positive behaviour action plan
- oversee, develop, implement, monitor and evaluate all planned objectives and activities.
Team composition should be collaborative to ensure school-wide representation. Staff selected to be on the team should be solution-focused, with a range of skills and expertise and work as an effective team player.
Teams may include some or all of the examples across all school settings:
- principal or senior executive
- assistant principals or head teachers
- stage representatives or faculty members
- Learning and Support Teacher
- special education teacher (LST)
- counsellor or psychologist
- teacher librarian
- careers advisor
- parents and community members.
Team members may be selected by:
- appointment by principal or executive team
Teams will need to make regular decisions. Some decisions will require whole staff input. There will need to be decision-making protocols about who decides (team, some or all staff, some or all students and community) and how to decide by:
- Consensus: every view or position is heard.
- Majority rule: decisions are determined by a vote.
- Participative or representative: those making a decision seek and take input from staff.
- Unilateral: one person or group is empowered to make decisions with consultation.
Factors that impact sustainability:
- Length of term: the team is shared and open to all. A rotation process should be considered, taking into consideration school size, interest and other school initiatives.
- Representation: the team must maintain representation from all stages or faculties to ensure effective communication
- Staff turnover: rates of staff turnover can impact the implementation of PBL team goals.
Effective team process
Effective meetings and successful teams include:
- team meeting schedule
- working agreements
- meeting agenda
- team roles
- system to monitoring progress of strategies implemented
- system for documenting decisions
- systems for communicating to all key stakeholders
- decision makers present at meeting.
Considerations for creating a meeting schedule:
- have regular meetings at the same time and place
- during initial development phases meet frequently (for example, fortnightly), then a minimum of twice a term with additional meetings scheduled for achieving goals and planning.
Protocols or guidelines increase productivity. They should be:
- developed by the team
- visible for team members and those attending meetings
- reviewed annually or as needed.
- meeting at the same time, in the same place each fortnight or term
- consistent start and end times that are adhered to
- staying on topic
- giving full attention.
It is best practice to have and distribute the agenda before the meeting to inform participants what will be discussed. An agenda gives team members the opportunity to come prepared.
The agenda typically includes:
- topics for discussion
- time allocation for each topic
- the person or people responsible for leading or following up discussions
- other roles, like time keeper and minutes taker
- any discussions and follow up for future meetings.
Maintain a bulletin board in staff common areas to highlight PBL, include:
- important notices
- general information
- graphic data displays
- PBL minutes
- focus lesson of the week or fortnight
- ongoing progress.
Ensure that school-wide PBL efforts are made public through the school's app, newsletters, notes, website and social media.
Data-based decision making
It is important that data is used to inform decision making. Data includes school and other data, behaviour and academic. To promote long lasting change, schools must blend commitment and evidence-based practices with strong leadership.
- Focus on a specific question and work to answer the question, 'where are we now?'.
- Gather data pertinent to answering the question at hand.
- Where are the gaps in your current status compared to where you want to be?
- What data can help you drill deeper to further define the who, where, when, why and how?
- Define your outcome goals so that they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound.
- What strategies will most efficiently and effectively get you to your desired goals?
Analyse collected data to determine progress toward meeting goals. Ask:
- Have we implemented our plan with fidelity?
- Have we achieved our goal or are we making adequate progress toward achieving our goal?
Within this, there needs to be decision making protocols. Some decisions require appointing an individual with the appropriate knowledge and authority to make them (such as a coordinator or principal). Other times decisions can be made by the team as involving the whole staff or community can be impractical, unnecessary or time consuming. When new procedures or approaches are being implemented, ensure the entire staff are involved so that everyone is familiar with it and supports it. Ensure student and family voices are heard as well.
It is important to maintain communication with all stakeholders (all staff, students, families and communities). It is important to consider:
- What needs to be communicated?
- Who do we need to share that information with?
- How should it be communicated?
- Who will be responsible for the communication?
Creating working partnerships with all stakeholders (staff, students, families and the community) is critical when planning as a collaborative approach increases chances of successful implementation.
For staff this can include increasing ownership and feeling supported. For students and families this includes inclusivity, promoting student and family voice and building student social competencies.
How information is shared and feedback obtained depends on the intended audience.
Examples on how to best engage stakeholders include:
- Staff: focus group process, small voluntary work groups, all staff review, staff discussions and revisions, new staff inductions.
- Students and families: as team members (ideal but not always possible), regular communication, surveys, face to face meetings, newsletters, website.
Managing resistance to change
Unfortunately change can be difficult due to sporadic projects or fragmented efforts that result in feelings of overload by many schools and staff. This has been termed ‘initiative fatigue’.
Strategies to help address resistance to change:
- Teachers must believe the changes will make a difference.
- Several types of support are needed.
- Teachers must see what is expected and believe it will work.
- Stakeholders must be involved in the decision making.
- Staff expertise must be respected.
- Understand and improve upon potentially poor prior experiences to change.
As a leadership team you must be prepared for this and ensure that:
- Data is collected, reviewed and communicated.
- Ongoing training and support is provided.
- Team members are modelling quality practice.
- Input from stakeholders is taken on board and valued.
- Staff expertise is valued and utilised.
- Change is a positive process.
Defining expected behaviour
Module 5 – Defining expected behaviour
Having clearly defined school-wide expectations and rules is important as it creates a vision of a successful student and defines expected behaviours. Defining expected behaviours provides a framework to guide staff decisions about behaviour support and creates consistent language that can be implemented by staff.
It is important to clearly define school-wide expectations and rules because it:
- Creates a vision of a successful student.
- Leads adults to clarify what the expected behaviours are.
- Allows teachers to proactively teach behaviours for success.
- Communicates a positive message to students and adults about success.
- Provides a framework to guide staff decisions about behaviour support.
- Aligns staff through the use of consistent language.
- Validates and supports individual teachers' procedures and requests.
Expectations and rules
- are the overarching values and desired behaviours that define what you want from students
- serve as guidelines for behaviour for all students, staff and the community at schools and involved in school-endorsed events.
- developed and reviewed by staff, students and community.
- are the specific behaviours you want to see
- link directly back to the school-wide expectations and clearly convey what is expected in specific settings
- should be specific, observable and measurable
- may vary depending on the setting (for example, different areas of the playground or library)
- should be positively stated
- need to tell students what to do rather than not what to do.
Clearly defined school-wide expectations
Clearly defined expectations provide a common language and vision for the whole school community. As they are a direct reflection of a school's values and mission, they should be defined and agreed upon by all staff and the school community.
School-wide expectations will be:
- Consistent and few
- Almost everything you want from students and adults in your school will fit into 3-5 expectations.
- Positively stated
- We want everyone to know what to do.
- Predictable and comprehensive
- All students and adults in all settings.
Behaviour examples are:
- specific behaviours you want to see from students
- linked directly to the school-wide expectations
- clearly conveyed to the students
- what is expected from everyone in each setting.
It is important that all staff, students and the school community are involved in the process of deciding expected behaviours to enhance buy-in.
Each behaviour example must be observable, measurable, positively stated, understandable and always applicable (known as the OMPUA guidelines).
I can see it.
- Example – Raise your hand and wait to be called on.
- Non-example – Be your best.
I can count it.
- Example – Bring materials.
- Non-example – Be ready to learn.
I tell students what to do.
- Example – Hands and feet to yourself.
- Non-example – No fighting.
The vocabulary is appropriate for the students I teach.
- Example – Hands and feet to yourself.
- Non-example – Maintain personal space.
I am able to consistently enforce expectations.
- Example – Stay in the assigned area.
- Non-example – Remain in your seat unless given permission to leave.
Building or reviewing expectations matrix
After deciding on the 3-5 expectations, it is time to build and review your expectations matrix.
Expectations matrices vary in design because they are tailored to meet the needs and values of their individual school communities.
These steps to build or review the expectations matrix can be used when starting or reviewing the expectations matrix. The matrix should be reviewed over time as school communities and needs change.
Step 1: Identifying problem and replacement behaviours
- Revisit expectations:
- What do you want for your students?
- List problem behaviours:
- What challenging behaviours are present?
- Categorise into similar groups
- Identify logical positive replacement behaviours:
- What do you want students to do instead?
- Using the OMPUA guidelines, develop and publish the expected positive behaviours.
Step 2: Develop or regenerate school-wide expectations matrix
Focus on all settings and one specific area at a time. All settings are the behaviours you want to see everywhere, so do not need to repeat them in each specific area. Behaviour examples or rules for each area are:
- linked to the expectations
- stated positively and succinctly
- age appropriate, action-based language
- linked to school culture
- agreement by 80% staff.
Once the school-wide expectations and behaviour examples are developed they need to be posted around the school in prominent places.
- High visibility will ensure that all members of the school community are aware of them.
- Visibility serves as a prompt for teaching and learning
- Posted expectations create a highly predictable environment that supports students to be successful.
- electronic signs
- electronic signs.
Essential feature: Teaching expected behaviour
Module 6 – Teaching expected behaviour
We can’t expect that all students come to school knowing the expected behaviours. It is crucial that expected behaviour is taught as rigorously as we teach academics through explicit instruction, practice, feedback and reteaching to increase the likelihood that students will follow the expectations.
All students need to develop and learn social, emotional and behavioural competence to support their academic achievement. We must teach behaviour as relentlessly as we teach academics. We need to remember that:
- Students are not born with bad behaviours.
- Students do not learn more socially acceptable ways of behaving when only given aversive consequences.
- Students’ lack of knowledge and skill demonstrates a deficit and need for teaching and learning to enhance self-regulation and self-determination.
- To retain new behaviours, students must be given specific, positive feedback and opportunities to practice in a variety of settings where the behaviour should be used.
Taking an educative approach towards behaviour focuses on teaching socially appropriate behaviour as rigorously as we teach academics.
We respond to and explicitly teach behavioural and social/emotional errors the same way as academic errors.
- Errors are accidental.
- Errors are inevitable.
- Errors signal the need for teaching.
- Students with learning difficulties need adjustments.
- Errors are accidental.
- Errors are inevitable.
- Errors signal the need for teaching.
- Students with behaviour difficulties need adjustments.
It is important to teach social skills as it encourages use of a common language among staff.
Staff using common language with students:
- helps take advantage of the spontaneous opportunities to reinforce skills you’ve already taught
- provides informal teaching opportunities
- ensures consistency for all students.
To support all staff and guide them to teach social skills, lessons will be needed for specific:
- behaviours/rules on your school’s matrix
- non-classroom procedures (arrival, canteen, playground rules, transitions)
- classroom rules
- classroom procedures.
When designing a teaching system for your school, consider the needs of the learners and use the appropriate lesson format to provide structure for those teaching lessons.
Examples of practice activities:
- role playing
- playing games that include use of the skill
- watching videos of examples and non-examples
- tying the social lesson with academic content.
To ensure teaching social skills and procedures is more than a one-time event, each school determines its own ongoing teaching schedule.
A teaching schedule helps keep all staff aware of when lessons are taught. The schedule needs to be flexible enough to allow for lessons to be taught when problem behaviours occur.
When developing a teaching schedule, consider including school-wide and classroom expectations, rules and procedures in:
- beginning of the year focused lessons
- weekly lessons
- new student orientation, using student ambassadors as orientation models for newly enrolled students.
Systems for teaching expectations
Systems should include:
- The Expectations Matrix
- lesson plans and a scope and sequence which is informed by data
- scheduled lessons
- skill practise, taught in natural setting, reinforced with free and frequent
- ongoing monitoring.
The process for teaching expectations takes into consideration lesson purpose, content, setting, format and monitoring.
- Identify expectation/rule
- Identify steps to complete rule
- Relevant to learning needs
- Learning adjustments and supports
- Include at least 3 different teaching strategies
- Teach in a natural setting
- Tell, show, practise and encourage
- Re-teach as needed
- developed based on the expectations in the school’s matrix, with problem area lessons being developed first
- reflective of the data that schools are collecting and design lessons to teach/reteach the students’ matrix expectations
- include opportunities for students to practice the skill in the setting. For example, if you are teaching about lining up at the canteen, take the students to the canteen to practise. Reinforce skill by rewarding students a free and frequent and positive verbal feedback.
The first items of every lesson plan should include:
- the expectation from your school’s matrix to help staff see how the lesson ties to the common language
- a specific behaviour or behaviours and/or procedure that is a clear description of the skill to be taught
- context to identify the location or locations where the behaviour is expected.
Lesson plans are similar to those is used for teaching academics, and the following needs to be determined:
- When lessons will be taught during the day or week?
- What will be taught?
- How will lessons be embedded into the curriculum?
- Can older students lead lesson delivery to younger students’?
Generalisation strategies help students maintain skills being taught and encourage use of the skills. Strategies include:
- pre-corrections or reminders
- active supervision
- feedback on performance
- practice in classroom and natural environment.
A pre-correction is a reminder that describes what is expected is before the event. It is:
- Occurs prior to the behaviour response takes place.
- The student must understand the prompt.
- It must be obvious to the student that the prompt is present.
- Specific and explicit
- Describe the expected behaviour (ensuring it is linked to the appropriate expectation).
- Make the problem irrelevant with anticipation and reminders.
Active supervision includes moving, scanning and interacting. Effective teachers scan continuously for appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. They also continuously move about, interacting with the students.
Active supervision is an opportunity to:
- observe student performance for both academic and social behaviours
- provide relevant feedback (praise)
- provide correction (proactive)
- encourage efforts (reward)
- build positive adult-student relationships.
While it is important to teach behavioral expectations and rules in the classroom, it is important to teach in the setting where that behaviour is expected. Giving students opportunities to learn and practice skills in the natural setting and with other adults will assist generalisation of the skill.
Encouraging expected behaviour
Module 7 – Encouraging expected behaviour
Positive encouragement is the most powerful behavioural change tool teachers have. Encouraging expected behaviours increases the likelihood that desired behaviour will be repeated, focuses staff and student attention on desired behaviour, decreases inappropriate behaviour and enhances self-esteem.
Why and how we encourage expected behaviour
Positive encouragement is the most powerful behaviour change tool teachers have. It:
- Increases the likelihood desired behaviour will be repeated.
- Focuses staff and student attention on desired behaviour.
- Decreases inappropriate behaviour.
- Enhances self-esteem.
Adult attention has a powerful influence on behaviour. There are 2 types of positive adult attention that create a cohesive school climate, build relationships and help students learn social behavioural expectations are:
- non-contingent attention
- contingent attention.
Attention is provided regardless of student performance. Examples include greetings and use of name, eye contact and smiling, proximity, positive conversations and pleasant voice.
- helps establish positive relationships.
- sets the foundation for students to display desired expectations.
- helps students accept correction when/if it is needed.
- provides students with role models of positive social interactions.
Attention is provided after student performs an identified expectation or behaviour. Examples include praise with specific positive feedback or a tangible reward (sticker, free-and-frequent tokens or tickets).
- increases academic and behavioural performance as well as on-task behaviour
- increases the likelihood the behaviour will occur again
- are enhanced when a positive relationship is also present.
Specific positive feedback
Specific positive feedback recognises student effort or success. Continued use is essential in creating behaviour change.
General praise is inadequate for changing behaviours. For example, saying ‘good job’ is inadequate for building and sustaining positive behaviour.
Students require clear, specific feedback on their use of school-wide expectations and other socially appropriate behaviours, such as acts of kindness, compassion, helpfulness and general positive citizenship that are extended reflections of your expectations.
Effective specific positive feedback guidelines include:
- Specifically describe the behaviour
- Students need to know what they did correctly.
- Provide rationale
- Explains why the behaviour is important.
- Include a positive consequence (for many, feedback is enough)
- If a tangible item or preferred activity is the positive consequence, it is imperative that verbal specific feedback is also used.
- Students ‘earn’, adults do not ‘give’.
Additional information can be found on Feedback to students.
Appropriate behaviour should receive more attention than inappropriate behaviour, with a goal of 4:1 – 4 times as many positive statements from staff as corrective statements.
This 4:1 ratio refers to the environment as a whole. It is not necessary to acknowledge each student 4 times as much as you correct them.
- Timing and frequency
- Allow for connection between behaviour and feedback
- Provide frequently when trying to build up a new behaviour
- Only when students demonstrate the behaviour
- Phase it out
- Intermittent once the skill has been learned to maintain the behaviour
When students are learning new skills, provide feedback on a continuous schedule. This means that every time the student displays the desired behaviour, they receive specific positive feedback. That is, freely and frequently.
Once the skill or behaviour has been learned, shift to more generalised acknowledgement and occasional use of specific positive feedback. This intermittent use of specific positive feedback helps to maintain the behaviour.
Developing a school-wide acknowledgement system
A school-wide acknowledgement system ensures all staff, students and parents/carers are aware of how student achievement will be acknowledged. It is important to note that not all students are encouraged by the same thing or in the same way.
It is important to develop a school-wide system for responding to appropriate behaviour that is valued by all students. Student voice is an important part of determining what appeals to students.
Continuum of reinforcement
A continuum of reinforcement encourages adults to respond to appropriate behaviour.
- Free and frequent, meaning:
- used school wide every day by all staff to all students
- delivered using specific positive feedback
- gotcha cards may go into a barrel-type draw for a random prize
- weekly acknowledgement.
- Intermittent, meaning:
- more powerful
- delivered semi-regularly by all staff weekly or fortnightly
- over time all students can obtain
- 'Student of the Week' and merit awards.
- Strong and long rewards are:
- term, semester or year-long forms of recognition that students work toward
- are harder to attain, based on sustained motivation
- usually presented at special events
- a day where all students are acknowledged for the collective achievement of high number of gotchas
- annual awards at presentation day.
Guidelines for the acknowledgment system include:
- Keep it simple.
- Reinforce frequently in the beginning.
- Utilise positive, specific and contingent feedback that encourages expected behaviour.
- Ensure students are always eligible to earn tangibles.
- Keep ratio of reinforcement to correction high (4:1).
- Confirm that reinforces are motivating.
- Establish direct links to the school-wide reinforcement system.
- threatening the loss of tangible rewards
- taking away earned reinforcers as a strategy for motivating desired behaviours.
Considerations for implementation
Implementation of an acknowledgement system requires school-wide agreement and understanding.
Considerations when developing an acknowledgement system include:
- collaborating with all staff
- ensuring consistency and sustainability
- clearly show what acknowledgements are in place, when students can access each level of acknowledgment system and instructions for staff about how to use.
Responding to inappropriate behaviour
Module 8 – Responding to inappropriate behaviour
Establishing systems to respond to inappropriate behaviour is important as it allows staff to efficiently and effectively respond to a range of inappropriate behaviours. Building understanding across the school around behaviour definitions and teaching strategies to staff on how to respond to inappropriate behaviour are important in creating a positive learning environment.
What the research says:
- Teachers feel unprepared to manage student behaviour.
- Teachers report low-level disruptive behaviours the most difficult to manage.
- When teachers use instructional procedures to respond to inappropriate behaviour, students learn that what happens when they misbehave is procedural not personal.
Inappropriate behaviour refers to those behaviours do not align with agreed social norms. Identifying the reason for inappropriate will help when responding to the behaviour. Ask, is it a skill or performance deficit?
A skill deficit corresponds to the student’s need for competence in order to be internally motivated to display the skill or knowledge.
A performance deficit refers to students’ who are not motivated or invested in using the appropriate behaviour. The performance deficit corresponds to the students’ need for relatedness and autonomy to be internally motivated.
The power of correcting social errors
Using an instructional approach can have a powerful impact on staff and students as it:
- demonstrates the importance of expectations
- restores order to the learning environment
- interrupts the inappropriate behaviour and prevents inappropriate behaviour
- embraces the teachable moment
- gives the student a chance to learn to be successful
- increases probability of future correct behaviour
- decreases future time out of learning
- builds relationships with students
- maintains a positive learning environment.
A school-wide system
It is important to develop system that allows staff to efficiently and effectively respond to inappropriate behaviour. This will include:
- responses to a teacher managed behaviour
- executive will manage behaviour if it persists, increases in frequency or becomes more chronic.
To build a school-wide system for responding to inappropriate behaviours, a school must:
- understand strategies to respond to minor or teacher-managed behaviours
- define what behaviours that are teacher or executive managed
- develop data gathering systems.
It is important to define behaviours in observable and measurable terms. Staff should be involved in the defining of behaviours. This will improve the use of the behaviour management systems.
Behaviours are to be defined as:
- Teacher managed (minor) behaviour
- Inappropriate behaviours that have negatively impacted upon school environment.
- Executive managed (major) behaviours
- More frequent inappropriate behaviour that increases in intensity and is referred to a executive to manage.
- Critical incidents
- Behaviours that require senior executive to respond and manage.
The agreed definitions are published so that all staff, including casual teachers, are aware of what inappropriate behaviours are teacher managed or executive managed.
Strategies to manage behaviour
When using preventative strategies, consider:
- least intrusive strategy
- specific, yet brief
- quiet, respectful interaction with the student
- refocus class if needed.
There are indirect and direct strategies to manage behaviour.
Indirect strategies are actions to minimise the inappropriate behaviour before it intensifies. They are unobtrusive and carried out quickly during instruction.
- Strategic placement or movement by the teacher in order to encourage positive behaviour.
- Non-verbal cue:
- Non-verbal techniques include eye contact, hand gestures, picture cues. These indicate that the teacher is aware of the behaviour and prepared to intervene when necessary.
- Uses the power of specific positive feedback. This involves praising a student behaving student appropriately who is nearby to a student behaving inappropriately. Praise the student after behaviour has been corrected.
Direct strategies are used after indirect strategies have been used. This interaction should be private using language from the matrix, matching response to the frequency and severity of the behaviour. Direct strategies:
- The redirect strategy employs a very brief, clearly and privately stated verbal reminder of the expected behaviour.
- This builds on the redirect above and re-teaches the specific expectation and desired behaviour in question.
- Provide choice
- Provide statement of two alternatives, the preferred behaviour and a less preferred choice. Students will often make the preferred choice.
- Student conference
- Lengthier re-teaching of the inappropriate behaviour.
It is important to document the school’s behaviour management process so that all students, staff and families understand the procedures. A flowchart is a simple way to do this.
School wide major minor flowchart
The behaviour management documentation should include:
- teacher managed behaviours
- how teachers are to respond to problem behaviours and what happens if the behaviour stops or continues
- executive managed behaviours (and when does a teacher managed behaviour become executive managed)
- how the executive teachers will respond to the problem behaviour
- include what do to in critical situation.
Consistent responses to inappropriate behaviour ensures that senior executive can respond to issues as they need to, knowing the staff have used the agreed upon procedures.
Data-based decision making
Module 9 – Data-based decision making
Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) is a data driven process and without data, it is just another idea within school contexts. The leadership teams use data to monitor progress, inform decisions, and establish cycles of continuous improvement. It is recommended that teams consider integrating academic and behaviour data when problem solving around both academic and behavioural problems as rates of academic success directly affect behaviour and vice versa.
Types of data
Data sources proven to help schools achieve their desired outcomes include:
- behaviour referrals
- other data (academic, attendance, sick bay records)
- positive behaviour for learning evaluation tools.
School-based (outcome) data sources
Outcome data sources that help determine if schools are achieving the PBL goals. It includes:
- teacher or executive managed behaviours
- academic data such as benchmark assessments and common formative assessments (used to inform academic student outcomes)
- behaviour referrals.
Data collection barriers
Data collection barriers include:
- Fear of numbers:
- Many people have acquired a fear of numbers.
- Exposure to uncomfortable truths about the school or educators
- Data may expose uncomfortable truths about the school or the educators in the school, impacting educators’ wellbeing and school reputation.
- Lack of decision-making using the data
- School is over collecting data with no visible decision-making being made as a result.
- Difficulty in understanding large amounts of data
- Teams may require professional learning as to what are appropriate data collection systems. Lack of understanding can lead to teams and staff capturing unnecessary data.
- Fear of how data will be used
- Schools and staff may be concerned that data will be used in a negative manner.
Overcoming barriers to data collection
- Frequently share data and data-based decision making with staff and involve them within the decision-making process to encourage staff buy in and purpose.
- Ensure staff are aware of the purpose of the data. What is it being used for?
- Establish easy to interpret data representation for all to understand and support decision-making.
- Ensure all staff are aware of data collection systems and procedures. Allow staff to provide regular feedback to modify data collection systems.
- Establish systems where you can share the data effectively with staff to inform future systems and practices.
The leadership team can use the examples below to overcome potential data barriers that are present in their school:
- communication meetings
- PBL communication board
- staff bulletins
- grade, stage or faculty meetings
- professional learning
- minutes easily accessible
- utilise 'think-aloud' processes used to interpret data.
Data systems to inform decision-making
When to analyse data
Twice a term or fornightly cycles:
- Monthly meetings are an optimal time for monitoring progress.
- Complete the Big 5: Include the Big 5 Data Decision Guide (PDF 380KB) with behavioural referrals in the agenda as a standing item.
- It’s important to monitor the progress of the action plan and determine if the PBL Leadership team is achieving their goals.
Annual or semester cycles
There is certain data that is collected each semester or annually. For example: Tiered Fidelity Invention (TFI), Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ), Self Assessment Survey (SAS), and Triangle data.
A data-based decision-making model that can be used to collect and analyse academic and behaviour data. This ongoing decision-making process is used at across the PBL continuum. Steps include:
Step 1: Collect and chart data
- Start with a question: general question related to academic, behavioural or social emotional outcomes. For example, 'Do all students perceive the school to be safe?' Once the question has been identified then you will start collecting the data needed.
- Data collection and review: Behaviour referrals, attendance records and evaluation tools.
- Identify what is done well and areas of growth: Celebrate success achieved within PBL implementation, for example lower referrals collected.
- Minimal effort for biggest impact: Working smarter, having sufficient action plan items.
- Monthly or fortnightly cycles: Consistent guidelines for when and what data is collected.
- Annual or semester cycles: Consistent guidelines for when and what data is collected.
Step 2: Analyse and prioritise
The Big 5 data assists schools to organise behavioural referral data. This makes it easier to track progress of school-wide behaviour, identify challenges, and develop school-wide interventions to address these challenges.
The Big 5 data tool is used for problem identification, action planning and monitoring progress.
Data collected includes:
- Average referrals per day per month. This asks ‘Is the behaviour associated to a few students or a large number of students?’
- Behaviour – what specific behaviours are most prevalent?
- Location – where the specific behaviour is happening?
- Time – when the specific behaviour is happening?
- Student’s involved – who is displaying such behaviours?
Big 5 behaviour referral reports are used at least monthly. Behaviour referral data is used to complete the Big 5 data-based decision-making model. Information on how to complete the ‘Big 5’ is provided on the document.
The Big 5 plan addresses:
- teaching strategies
Step 3: Writing SMART goals
SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound) focus attention to the desired outcome.
Step 4: Select strategies
After identifying the SMART goals, the team selects evidence-based actions to reach the goals.
The action plan should identify the goals, steps selected to meet those goals, persons responsible, timelines, communications or professional development required, evidence of implementation and desired outcomes.
Step 5: Determine result indicators
Result indicators provide easily monitored benchmarks allowing the team to monitor implementation and progress so adjustments can be made as needed.
Result indicators answer 2 questions:
- Are we implementing the plan as designed?
- Is the plan having desired results on student outcomes?
Step 6: Evaluate plan
The final step is to evaluate the plan and decide on the next steps with the decision-making depending on these questions:
- Have we implemented our plan with fidelity? Has it been implemented with accuracy?
- Have we achieved the goals?
- Are we making adequate progress toward achieving the goals?
If the team has implemented with fidelity, but has made little or no progress then they may need to modify that plan or develop a new one. This may require going back to step 2 and assessing whether the inference was appropriate.
If the plan was not implemented with fidelity and there has not been adequate progress towards the desired outcomes, it is important to look at barriers that prevented the plan from working.
If the goals were achieved but the plan was not implemented, the team needs to reflect on possible causes for the achievement.
If the goals have been achieved with the plan then sustainability needs to be planned for, unless the goals have just been accomplished.
Data management systems
Appropriate and inappropriate behaviour should be recorded to indicate trends and be used for informed decision making.
A behaviour referral form is designed to record and refer inappropriate behaviours. Many schools have some form of electronic system for recording data, including behaviour data. Electronic systems allow for instantaneous access by executive and staff. When tracking minor behaviours, the development of data decision rules will provide consistency for recording minor behaviours. Other schools use paper systems for collecting data.
Whether a paper or electronic data collection system is used, there are key features that must be included.
Behaviour referral forms should include the following information:
- Who: student name
- When: date and time of incident
- Whom: referring staff
- Where: location
- What: type of problem behaviour (minor/major)
- Why: possible motivation for behaviour – this category gives lots of additional information to the office staff
- What: teacher action
- Where to next: follow up.
The PBL evaluation tools review the fidelity of systems and practices implemented, identifies whether the team is keeping on track, enables accountability and builds from the last assessment.
The PBL evaluation tools review the fidelity of systems and practices implemented, identifies whether the team is keeping on track, enables accountability and builds from the last assessment.
Self-assessment survey (SAS)
The SAS is used by school staff for initial and annual assessment of effective behaviour support systems within their school. The survey can be completed in paper format by all staff during professional learning at schools.
- measures staff perception of the status and priority for improvement of school wide systems
- is completed annually
- can be completed on paper
- has an implementation criteria of 80%.
The SAS survey examines the status and need for improvement of 4 behaviour support systems:
- classroom settings
- individual student systems.
Staff are to complete the survey independently. It takes 20-30 minutes to complete. Staff abase their ratings on their individual experiences in the school.
Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI)
The purpose is to help schools determine their overall level of implementation and assist with action planning. This tool can also be used to highlight and celebrate success. The results are to be shared with the team, school staff and the community (all key stake holders). More important TFI information:
- When: at least once, annually.
- Who: Tier 1 PBL leadership team in consultation with PBL coach or mentor
- Fidelity criteria for successful PBL implementation is 70% (Mercer, McIntosh & Hoselton, 2017).
Three key components of the TFI
- Walkthrough: a normal school day, during a school’s break time.
- Inventory: during a team meeting, with all or at least 80% of the team present. Approximately 30-60 minutes to complete.
- Action plan development meeting: during a PBL team meeting, with all or at least 80% of the PBL team present. Approximately 30-60 minutes to complete.
There are 15 Tier 1 features separated into the 3 subscales of:
Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ)
The Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ) is used to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement across 10 critical elements of Tier 1 implementation. It is completed annually and takes 30-45 minutes to complete. Results are entered into an Excel spreadsheet that automatically produces graphs.
- reliably assesses PBL team’s implementation
- is easy to complete by PBL coaches and teams
- provides feedback to the PBL team
- clarifies outcomes as related to implementation
- when used over time, enables scores in each area to be tracked on a year-to-year basis.
The BoQ examines 53 benchmarks across 10 critical elements that align with Tier 1 Universal Prevention. Information is gathered through multiple sources including a review of school records, direct observations and staff and student interviews.
School-wide Evaluation Tool (SET)
The SET evaluates the critical features of school-wide effective behaviour support annually. Completing each evaluation question within the 7 feature areas, the information gathered from the SET can be used to:
- assess features that are in place
- determine annual goals
- evaluate on-going efforts
- design and revise procedures
- compare year to year efforts in the area of school-wide implementation.
Triangle data tool
The triangle data tool clearly shows the percentages of students with certain amounts of behaviour referrals in each tier. It gives a clear picture of how well implementation is happening and signal which features of the implementation need to be introduced or revisited. Decision rules are based on the number of executive referrals individuals to indicate additional behavioural support.
Common decision rules are:
- 2-5 behavioural referrals identify students needing Tier 2 level supports
- students with 6 or more referrals may indicate a student needing Tier 3 level of support.
The triangle data tool allows teams to effectively monitor the percentage of students who are responding to school-wide interventions and provides a graphic reminder to teams of the importance of having universal systems and practices in place. Schools experience greater success if they can reduce the portion of students who meet the decision rules for targeted and individualised supports.
Effective classroom practice
Module 10 – Effective classroom practice
Effective classroom practices results in a decrease in inappropriate behaviour, an increase in appropriate behaviour, engagement in learning and outcomes.
Tier 1 Classroom Systems of Support is a stand-alone course (link), it is important to introduce effective classroom practices as part of school-wide implementation. The 7 Essential Features of the school-wide Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) framework are seen in the overview below.
Effective classroom practices include:
- environmental Management
- creating positive learning environments.
Behaviour management (increase instructional time) includes:
- classroom expectations
- classroom procedures and routines
- encouraging expected behaviours
- responding to problem behaviours.
Instructional management (increase engaged time) includes:
- active supervision
- opportunities to respond
- activity sequencing and choice
- task difficulty.
Module 11 – Sustainability
This module identifies the most important perceived barriers and enablers regarding sustainability of Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) school-wide positive behavioural interventions and supports.
The most cited barriers were:
- staff buy-in
- resources, including time and money.
Enablers in sustaining school-wide PBL:
- commitment of staff
- principal support
- relevant and current training for all
- effective team systems and practices in place
- embedded and efficient data practices.
Embed PBL to enhance sustainability through:
- Strategic planning:
- Ensure all aspects of PBL are documented in the strategic directions including the milestones.
- Procedures development
- School procedures reflect decisions to reinforce importance of the PBL framework.
- Establish appropriate committees or working parties
- Certain aspects can be done more efficiently by a team with final approval by the whole PBL team.
Consider ensuring success by:
- providing an integrated continuum of behavioural and academic support for all students
- developing, implementing and sustaining evidence-based practices
- ensuring system-based approaches are simple and effective
- communicating your baseline data and demonstrate improvements
- building and refining simple, effective systems
- creating sustainable systems.
Continuous improvement considerations:
- Are we doing what we said we would do?
- Are our efforts benefiting current students?
- Are our efforts supporting staff?
- Are our efforts supporting the community?
- Are our efforts an efficient use of resources?
Sustainable elements include:
- high expectations
- principal support and active leadership
- committed staff and team that uses an action plan and is informed by current data
- ongoing self-assessment and evaluation to determine achievements and set new goals
- inclusion in the school plan and wellbeing procedures
- regular communication with all stakeholders.
Creating partnerships with anyone who is invested in the wellbeing and success of a school and its students is imperative. Stakeholders have a personal, professional and/or financial stake in the school and its students.
Creating partnerships with stakeholders is critical throughout implementation of across all 3 tiers. This engagement should be built around the concept that staff, students, families, and communities all have a shared vision for what learning and success should look like and how best to accomplish it.
Stakeholders include staff, parents, carers, families and community.
Positive behaviour for learning training
Module 12 – Positive behaviour for learning training
There are several modules of Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) training to provide the framework for developing, implementing, monitoring and reviewing systems and practices.
It is recommended that you start with the Introduction to Positive Behaviour for Learning course.
Positive behaviour for learning taster
Positive behaviour for learning (PBL) courses include:
Introduction to Positive Behaviour for Learning includes information on what positive behaviour for learning is, educational context and evidence base, how teachers enable change and the continuum of support. Developing a common philosophy and purpose is considered after discussing the impact of problem behaviour, rethinking discipline into behaviour support and the role of motivation in learning.
Tier 1 School-wide systems of support is the foundation for all other PBL components. It provides the research and framework underpinning the whole school approach. Schools design systems that fit their context, focusing on supporting staff to be consistent. Participants and school teams learn how to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate leadership systems, define and explicitly teach expected behaviour, respond to appropriate and inappropriate behaviour and use data to inform decision making. Within this, antibullying, stakeholder engagement and involvement and sustainability is discussed.
In Tier 1 Classroom systems of support, participants and school teams learn how to integrate school-wide systems and practices contextually within each classroom using environmental, behaviour and instructional management. Fundamental to this is forming positive professional relationships. Participants are taught how to develop, monitor and evaluate classroom expectations, rules and routines, and systems and practices to respond to appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. Participants learn about active supervision, providing opportunities to respond, task difficulty and activity sequencing and choice
Tier 2 Targeted systems of support focuses on early intervention for students who need additional support. The early intervention strategies aim to reduce problem behaviour before it becomes chronic. Intervention strategies address both academic supports, behavioural and social/emotional competencies to reengage students in learning. Student identification processes and selecting function based interventions are discussed. Systems and practices around interventions such as Check in Check out, social skills groups and self monitoring are provided.
Tier 3 Intensive, Individualised supports focuses on early intervention for students with complex and challenging behaviours. The emphasis is on understanding the function of a student’s behaviour and planning teaching and learning strategies that help address this function. The aim is to reduce the occurrences of problem behaviours and teach the student to manage their own behaviour. There is an emphasis on support for specific wellbeing needs and improved engagement in learning. Functional based assessment and student behaviour plans are a focus of this training.
PBL in the Preschool is for preschool staff and PBL team members in schools. This course builds understanding of how PBL and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) align to support effective practices around guiding children's behaviour. This course supports schools to develop whole school systems around PBL in the preschool.
Where to from here
Module 13 – Where to from here
Where to from here
Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) is a long term commitment and can take a few years to implement. From here:
- determine needs and competing priorities of school
- establish or regenerate a PBL team
- undertake the training that you and/or your school identifies as a priority and need
- evaluate current school systems and practices using the Benchmarks of Quality or Tiered Fidelity Inventory. A score of 80% indicates your school is ready for the additional training. Sometimes, you may need to retrain in school-wide and classroom systems to strengthen these systems and practices.
Module 14 – Suggested reading and references
Module 14 – Suggested reading and references
- Association for Positive Behaviour Support Australia
- NSW Department of Education Positive behaviour for learning
- PBIS Missouri Be mindful that we must contextualise everything to the NSW Department of Education and local schools context, systems and practices.
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